You can tell that El Sol Mexican Restaurant on the South Side (across from Harlandale High School) is more than a restaurant when you pass a table covered with bracelets and earrings for sale. Once inside, the shilling keeps on going. I looked down on the table and there appeared two Virgen de Guadalupe keychains with notes tied on them from a woman claiming to be deaf: $3, if we were so inclined. Three minutes later, I looked down again and the keychains had disappeared. I never saw the woman.
A man came armed with spangled Spurs shirts and tank tops — literally around each arm. Another held out to each table a metal plate with the words “Go Spurs Go” engraved on it. A father and son duo belted out corridos as they walked through the restaurant’s different chambers.
I thought: Who cares about the food? I was having a great time soaking up the atmosphere on a Sunday morning on the South Side.
Turns out the food was fantastic.
This is one of those places where clearly everyone in the neighbor knows of it — and not many people outside the neighborhood do. And that’s the way it should be.
There with a new sidekick, The Conch, we went to town:
» The Coaches taco was a combo of bean, scrambled egg, bacon and cheese. Very, very good. The Conch liked how the bean and scrambled egg are a natural mix and then you add bacon and cheese. I tried a trash can-style taco before and didn’t prefer it. This one, I do.
» The carne guisada was also very good and seemed more of a simple rendition with tender meat and thin and watery stew.
» The barbacoa on flour was not greasy, semi crunchy. It included some fat, but not enough to discard. Great flavor on a flour tortillas that was also very good.
» The bean and cheese on corn was also very good with the beans and cheese equally played in a tortilla that was soft and obviously homemade.
» The patties and egg was about what you’d expect from Jimmy Dean-style breakfast patties and nicely scrambled egg — freakin’ delicious.
» The chicharron con salsa was good — the salsa seemingly placed on top of the skins as the taco was made and not braised together for a long period of time. Still very good with a chunky kind of ranchera sauce.
» The papa, chorizo and egg mix was my least favorite, but still good.
I really liked El Sol and gladly give it two and a half salsa cups. It’s not three, because everything there was very, very good — but nothing like outstanding. But I’d say it’s still worth the crosstown visit because of the seven tacos we had, none of them were bad or even mediocre. They were all very good.
El Sol, 1815 Pleasanton Road, (210) 923-5553
Worth traveling across town for
Average S.A. taqueria. Some hits, some misses
— Benjamin Olivo
What do you think? Is there a taco I should have ordered, but didn’t? Have any taco news, issues or concerns? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.